Friday, March 21, 2014

Take the time to join this bank

Hour time has come, Barrie!
When Occupy Wall Street moved on to projects like providing relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy or funding a rolling jubilee of debt buyouts & forgiveness, it left many people still eager to make a difference in the world. One was Donna Halliday, who knew she couldn’t change the world but could make a difference by weaving community ties. She founded Barrie’s Time Bank with a $1000 grant from the Huronia Unitarian Fellowship for web design and promotion, because time banking aligns with the Unitarian passion for social justice.
After signing up some new members at last September’s Ecofest, the project caught the eye of Climate Action Now (Barrie), a vibrant new group of activists seeking local projects where they could be the “spark plug” to enable success. Time banking represents a form of re-localizing the economy, one strategy to reduce our carbon footprint and help address the climate crisis.
So what is the Time Bank? Basically, it’s a way for you to offer something you can do, and receive something else in exchange, on an hour-for-hour basis. If you have a knack for sewing, or carpentry, or baking, you can provide that for someone else and take advantage of a manicure, or a facial, or someone to run errands. The beauty of the time bank is you don’t have to find a person who offers exactly what you need and needs what you offer; you provide a service to one person, someone else provides one to you, and the time bank squares it all up.
It’s easy and free to register, and to start giving or getting. You can get a sense of activities by looking for the Barrie Community Time Bank page on Facebook, and click to their site where you can sign up. Current offers include gutter cleaning, rides, photography, manicures, classes such as yoga or forest kindergarten or ethnic cooking, while needs include electrical and carpentry help, or lessons in Spanish or sign language. Services are deposited or withdrawn on an hour-for-hour basis, because regardless how skilled or trained you may be, each of us has only 24 hours in the day.
Time banking enhances people’s sense of self-worth and connection to the community. Even if you are unemployed, or a struggling single parent, there are things you can do for others that they will appreciate. Time banking restores the dignity of sharing and helping that used to fill our communities but has faded from our modern cash-transaction-based economy.
There is no age barrier in time banking – children, adults, seniors can all take part. You can save up hours for a major project or use as you create them. You can even start by using a service, instead of having to give hours first. A working time bank needs withdrawals as much as deposits!
Another project supporter is Transition Barrie, because time banking increases community resilience. After the devastating New Zealand earthquakes in 2011, a well-developed local time bank served as a vital hub, coordinating clean-up and rebuilding efforts by matching available assistance with people in need.
If you’re intrigued by time banking but want to understand it better, drop by the Saturday Social on March 29th, between 5 and 9:30 pm at the DIY Arts Collective at 67 Toronto St. Computers will be set up where you can try it hands-on, with activity stations for children, and even a brief candle-lit Earth Hour ceremony. Time is money – so bank it!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as "Time banking a form of re-localizing the economy"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation

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